Dear Service Dog Diary,
Today was another progress and slow successes day. We continued our work on alerting to eating. The hard part about training to such a high level is that it also requires a high level of patience. You can practice one command for a week with no signs of progress and then one day it just clicks, but you just have to keep at it.
It seems like Finn understood the “touch” cue very quickly, but it might take him a while to understand that eating is the cue. He is definitely on the right track, which is very encouraging. The other issue that I’ve been having with training the enzyme alert is that my appetite has been down. It’s hard to cue to eating when you’re not eating!
Per usual, we continued work on other basic obedience cues. We worked on “front”, “back-up”, and “forward”. We also added in “rest your head”, “settle”, and “relax”. These are just a few cues to encourage him to get in a restful and relaxed position when he is required to stay for a while. This will primarily be used in the “under” position. It’s always good to keep your dog’s brain working, though!
Then we did a bit of work on getting Finn to carry my basket. This basket holds my enzymes, an inhaler, and my pulse ox. I plan to add a small water bottle at some point and possibly some other items. It’s not very large and is just for around the house when I’m not feeling well. Anyways, he has trouble carrying it across the kitchen floor. So we work a little every once in a while to get him more comfortable with that part of the house.
Finally, the big win for the day. Our public work for the day consisted of going to a coffee shop for book club. His focus wasn’t great at first. In his defense, there were two of his babysitters there. Once he greeted them, he settled down. This will be something I have to consult with our trainer on, but I never know if it’s appropriate to let him say hi to people. He doesn’t try to greet strangers, but he wants to initially say hi to the people that he knows and loves. I always let him because he gets right back to work afterwards. If I don’t let him, then he is more focused on them than me and that’s a problem. I like to set him up for success, and letting him greet his friends quickly does that.
The gray areas of training are probably one of the most difficult parts, besides patience, for a first time trainer, in my opinion. You never want to do the wrong thing because this is a huge undertaking. The last thing you ever want to do is mess it up.